No Brains, Please: Zombie Shooter

By Alec Meer on August 20th, 2009 at 1:13 pm.

There is but one cure for illness and grumpiness: shooting lots of pretend things, over and over again, barely pausing for thought, food or oxygen. Die! Die! Die! You are all metaphors for my problems. Die!

It was in a such a mood that I wandered over to Sigma Team’s 2007 game Zombie Shooter, one of those many cheap-sounding games lurking in the Steam store for a few quid. Zombies? Shooting? There’s no way to get that totally wrong. Let’s risk it.

It is, aheh, one of the most braindead gun-games I’ve ever had the good fortune to play. The kill count is extraordinary – zombies surging in their hundreds, and the levels’ floors quickly coated in extreme gore and viscera, leaving none of the original terrain still visible.

Ew! Woo!

There is almost nothing to it. You shoot zombies, in a remarkably robust 2D engine. The model is Alien Breed, Shadowgrounds et al – top-down, third-person, enclosed spaces. Team Sigma have done a similar thing with a series of Alien Shooter games, but zombies are that much more appealing. As you play, you level up, spending points on stat boosts and cash on new, gloriously destructive weapons. The disc cutter can mow a good half dozen zombie down with one shot, the minigun is a spray of constant death, the rocketlauncher can paint a room red instantly….

There is almost nothing to it. You shoot zombies which become increasingly tough. Some of them are almost unfair – the homing flesh-missiles of the spindly ghoul-things, for instance. But then you explode 40 regular undead into rotting pieces with a single shot from a gun that never needs reloading (though it will eventually run out of ammo), and you’re reminded that ‘fair’ isn’t a concept that exists in any aspect of this game.

There is almost nothing to it. Narrative? Pfft. Logic? Good lord, no. Half the enemies aren’t even zombies, simply unexplained fleshbeasts with otherworldly powers or an infinite supply of rocketlaunchers. This are simply rooms full of monsters to kill, over and over, in sometimes exhausting waves. Every time a new horde appears, it looks ridiculous, impossible. There’s no way you can possibly defeat that. But you do.

There is almost nothing to it. It’s almost inexcusable in its simplicity, in its near-plagiarism of isometric shooters – until you realise that, actually, nothing else is doing this. It feels familiar, the instant recognisation of the click-shoot-die feedback loop, but I’ve a sneaking suspicion that this is as much to do with Team Sigma getting the feel and controls (bar some getting stuck on scenery problems, as a result of the fixed camera and resultant occlusion of parts of the screen) exactly right as it is their borrowing liberally from trusted sources.

There is almost nothing to it. It’s so, so stupid, but it’s so much fun – simply a shooting game with all the usual restraints and pretence of cleverness removed, leaving only the rich, bloody core of clicking a button to watch hundreds of things die. I can’t imagine I’ll ever play it again. I can’t imagine that matters.

Zombie Shooter: stoopidest thing ever. You’ll probably love it.

Demo here, full version for £4/$5 here. Runs on pretty much any PC, too.

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52 Comments »

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  1. Heliosicle says:

    I bought Alien Shooter 2 off steam the other week, alot of fun even if it does get a little out of hand towards the end.

    Zombie Shooter 2 is coming soon as well

  2. Andresito says:

    I got tired of Alien Shooter after a couple of hours, so despite the zombi appealing I’ll probably skip this one.

  3. l1ddl3monkey says:

    £4? That’s slightly in excess of a pint of lager, which wont last me as long as this would. On that basis; sold.

  4. Asskicker says:

    Fun game for killing time in school.

  5. Blacktick says:

    I love this game(and alien shooters)…played it when it came out and a few times after that.
    Everyone needs braindead moments at somepoint in their lives…why not let them be the joy of shooting thousands of zombies(or aliens). :D

    Been waiting for Zombie shooter 2 for a while now,should be out very soon like said earlier.

  6. Bluepixie says:

    I have a ridiclous soft spot for isometric games, just love the “model worlds” you play in. Alien Shooter 2 was a great blast (still want to try co-op at some point), I’ll probably pick this up.

  7. Ian says:

    Will try.

  8. Dominic White says:

    I reccomend people skip on this one, at least for now. Instead, get Alien Shooter 2: Reloaded. It’s pretty much the same thing with much higher production values (it actually looks rather good – some very nice isometric 2d stuff there), and a few extra playmodes.

    It’ll tide you over until Zombie Shooter 2 is released, using the fancified AS2 engine.

  9. GJLARP says:

    I had more fun with Alien Shooter 2 than Zombie Shooter. If you thought Zombie Shooter was fun, you should have a go at Alien Shooter 2

    Alien Shooter was a mediocre product though, but AS2…ahhh now that’s where the fun is to be had.

  10. Caiman says:

    And then there’s Shadowgrounds…

  11. Clovus says:

    Is that a turret in sceenie #3? I like in AS2 how you get those “I’m being overwhelmed!” fights mixed with, “Here’s a turret\tank. KILL ‘EM ALL!!!!” moments. It is like how Valve understand that gamers don’t want constant exciting challenge. But instead of physics puzzles or story, X Shooter just becomes completely unbalanced in favor of the player. Fun.

  12. Mr Chug says:

    I remember spending many a happy hour with Crimsonland, which sounds fairly similar to this. It caused me to roar with happiness as enemies fell beneath my hail of fire in a similar way that TF2’s heavy now does.

  13. Scribe says:

    After completing this a couple of times it got a bit stale. That is, until I found the cheats on the Sigma Games website.
    Normally I’m not one for cheating but in this case I’ll make an exception. Getting the Magma gun (huge, red, instadeath) right at the start and just plowing through everything they throw at you? Pure mindless amusement.

  14. qrter says:

    I really like the Shooter series.

  15. tapanister says:

    I just bought this after reading this review, it was actually pretty funny, and seriously, how wrong can you go with less than 5 euros?

  16. tapanister says:

    That was to say it was “fun” not “funny”, although it is funny, blowing up zombies like that and shit.

  17. Taillefer says:

    There’s also Nation Red. It’s a top down, mindless, zombie shooter. But in 3D. With boss zombies that have chainsaws and such. More expensive though.

  18. Cooper says:

    This sounds perfect. Demo-downloading now

  19. Mister Adequate says:

    Looks like a spiritual successor to Project: Overkill. So I’m interested.

  20. kyynis says:

    While talking about top-down shooters, Shadowgrounds and it’s sequel are on sale at D2D: http://www.direct2drive.com/staticpage.aspx?topic=meridian4deals

    Coincidentally I just read your excellent posts about Pathology, became very interested and lo: it happens to be 70% off as well.

  21. Dominic White says:

    You know what’s also $5/£5 that is by the same studio and near identical gameplay-wise but a lot better in every other respect?

    http://store.steampowered.com/app/33120/

    ALIEN SHOOTER 2. If you have any intrest in Zombie Shooter, play this instead. It’s aliens instead of zombies, but that’s about the only functional difference gameplay-wise. It looks about ten times better though.

  22. Dominic White says:

    Seriously, just look at this screenshot:

    http://cdn.steampowered.com/v/gfx/apps/33120/ss_c5338bef27b88e7085cda9875e6cde3df7de1a86.800×600.jpg?t=1243476360

    AS2 is Shootybangs incarnate.

  23. Alex says:

    *is having a heart attack at the comment about £4 only being just over the price of a pint.*

  24. J Arcane says:

    Alien Shooter 2/Vengeance is one of my absolute favorite games. It’s freakin’ brilliant, for pretty much all the same reasons as Alec’s Zombie Shooter review, but turned up to 11.

    There’s a review I wrote of it some time ago, which sadly went as ignored as the game: http://www.colonyofgamers.com/cogforums/showthread.php?t=5522

  25. Kieron Gillen says:

    Welcome to London.

    Dom White’s screenshot has sold me. FUCK YEAH.

    KG

  26. Alex says:

    Ugh, and my girlfriend had just convinced that living in London post-Uni was viable.

    ON TOPIC: That is an AWESOME screenshot.

  27. Inglorion says:

    Demo is ridiculously short.

  28. AndrewC says:

    I’ve found there’s a massive cognitive disconnect between different uses for money – i’ll notice lots of people complaining about the prices of a game costing £10 while in a pub downing £15 of beer. I do it myself.

    Some expenditures are invisible while others get obsessed over and computer games, sadly for really low priced ones like this, are the object of insane amounts of nit-picking.

    £4! It’s an awesome price!

  29. Xocrates says:

    Coincidentally enough, I was playing Zombie shooter today after replaying AS2 yesterday.

    Zombie shooter is a lot of fun, but perhaps a bit too buggy. If you only want one, then get AS2. Totally worth it.

    But there’s also the nifty complete package for 15€ http://store.steampowered.com/sub/1645/

  30. Dead Fish says:

    At first I thought this was some kind of StarCraft mod… It looks oddly like the old RTS. :3

  31. IvanHoeHo says:

    Yeah, I bought this a couple of months ago, and the controls and shooting just feels so right, something that countless supposedly high production value games get wrong.

    Hell, it was so much fun, I got a portable version off bittorrent, so I can play it anywhere.

  32. Wulf says:

    Then again, of course, there are those that think that drinking is a waste of money, time, organs, and good cognitive processes. I’d rather utilise a good hallucinogenic drug (DMT is appealing) than waste large amounts of money on drink, but I can’t really afford to do that, either.

    It’s interesting that there’s a majority which assumes that everyone and their dog can afford to throw ludicrous amounts of money away on alcohol and movies. I tend to buy games because usually they do provide better entertainment value for the small amounts of cash I do have.

    I do obsess over rising prices with PC games because it means that I’m able to purchase less with the money I do have, and that has me shying away from mainstream titles (which no doubt has companies running around like chickens with their heads cut off about how piracy rather than rising prices is causing their losses) and looking more at games which provide a reasonable amount of entertainment for an affordable price.

    So in the end, I agree that £4 is an awesome price for a game, especially one that has lots of replay value. Why pay £40 for Modern Warfare 2 when I can pay £4 for Alien Shooter 2 Reloaded? (A game which I’ll probably have more fun with than MW2 anyway, considering that I’m not a huge fan of modern day/realistic combat games.)

    I picked up The Wonderful End of the World for a similar price too, and that was loads of fun.

    If any developers are listening: Moar affordable games centred around fun, please. Thank you!

  33. Wulf says:

    Addendum (random thought): It might be interesting for someone to do an article about how many indie/low-priced modern games can be bought for the same amount of money as MW2, I’d love to see RPS do this, with an article that goes something like; this [Modern Warfare 2 box image] or this [Lonnnng list of cheaper games].

  34. Xocrates says:

    Oh, and as a side note for those wondering how brutal AS2 can be. In the game mode on that screenshot Dom White linked I can survive for around 15 minutes, and kill in excess of 7000 beasties.

    Yes, that averages several hundreds a minute.

  35. Kieron Gillen says:

    Wulf: Back in the day, I vaguely recall an article *someone* doing an article about what to spend fifty quid on to maximise your enjoyment or something.

    I quite like the idea. Wayyyyy back in the day I did an article for my fanzine about how to fake being cool for fifty quid – which you had to spend in Woolworths, because if you’re not cool, you’re not able to go into any cool shops. There’s something quite fun with that.

    KG

  36. Premium User Badge

    Sagan says:

    @All the Alien Shooter 2 lovers.

    I played the demo of both Zombie Shooter and Alien Shooter 2, and from the demo experience I am probably going to buy Zombie Shooter. I don’t like the graphics in Alien Shooter 2, because you can’t even clearly see the aliens you are shooting. The zombies have some personality. And the zombies give more feedback when being shot (larger blood splatter). And their death sound is much more satisfying.

    But then I read so many positive opinions about Alien Shooter 2 here, and now I’m afraid that I am going to make the wrong decision. So please tell me what’s so awesome about Alien Shooter 2. Don’t be afraid of spoilers. Someone mentioned a tank, and that sounds intriguing.
    And I won’t buy both, because I will probably be tired of this in one or two hours anyway.

  37. Wulf says:

    @Kieron: Indeed, I just think it would be more interesting than anything else though, to show the diversity within the gaming culture, and that gaming isn’t only about spending forty quid on a realistic FPS game (as I’ve seen asserted so often around the Internet).

    There are some great RPGs and adventure games out there too for next to nothing, and do consider: One could include Time Gentleman, Please in such a list, too, along with the rather wonderful Blueberry Garden, and so on.

    I think the point I’d try to make with such an article is that price is not always analogous to quality, and in fact the inverse can quite frequently be true, and that that’s a problem within the mainstream game’s industry. I don’t think that MW2 is worth forty quid, when one considers the other things one could be spending it on.

    And the more people realise this, the less they may be willing to shell out a good six or seven times worth the actual quality of an item, when they might be having more fun elsewhere if they looked, or at least there’s a more sizeable chunk of lasting entertainment to be had elsewhere.

    I know there’s always the argument of style over substance, and there are those who pay to be stylin’, but that argument always makes my skin crawl. I’m always reminded of when Coca Cola tried to market a ‘cool’ version of their drink in America, which had a far less friendly price-tag coupled with a lesser amount of the actual product. Coca Cola did this because they thought that there were kids who’d happily pay a premium for the chance to look cool by drinking out of a thinner can.

    @Saran

    On the face of it, it’s completely subjective I think. Just like one person might prefer to sit down and watch Aliens, whereas another might wish to sit down to watch a Romero zombie flick, such may very well be true of the Shooter games, as the most important differences are a change in scenery, threat, and atmosphere.

    I prefer Alien Shooter, but then… I’m the sort who’d prefer to watch a Sci-fi movie rather than a Horror flick.

    One thing I will say though is that in Alien Shooter 2, the player has the ability to hypnotise the aliens to do their bidding, by the sole merit of their ‘psychotic gaze’. And that’s awesome.

  38. Wulf says:

    Err, sorry for getting your name wrong, Sagan. I was distracted at the time and wasn’t paying enough attention. :/

  39. J Arcane says:

    @Sagan: I find AS2 to ultimately feel more polished on the whole, but more importantly, there’s quite a bit more gameplay depth with the added RPGish elements. Whereas Zombie Shooter is straight action, AS2 has just a touch of added Diabloness to it.

    Plus, badass vehicle sections with bloody tire tracks.

  40. MeanCoffeeBean says:

    Why does this look to me like a slightly better textured port of Smash TV? Am I the only one seeing this?

    I can only wonder if I could win a brand new VCR!

  41. Dominic White says:

    The ‘can’t see too much of the aliens’ thing only applies to the earlier levels of AS2, where you’re going through dim tunnels, largely illuminated by your flashlight. It gets brighter as the game progresses though, and you’ll be staring down whole armies of scuttly little gits before long.

    And just reminding people – there IS a Zombie Shooter 2 in development right now, and it’s using the same engine as AS2, so that should be pretty fun when it’s complete.

  42. We Fly Spitfires - MMORPG Blog says:

    Looks awesome :D Now I just wish they’d create a Zombie MMORPG!

  43. Xocrates says:

    @Sagan: AS2 is, by far, a better game. ZS has several graphical glitches, and it’s not unusual for zombies to be hidden by walls and props.

    AS2 also has a lot more variety (in monsters, weapons, I think it even has one more game mode (while improving another), and yes, armoured cars, a tank, and a battle droid). It actually has a story (gasp) and I think it supports more monsters per level. A big plus is also level selection (this can be important since screwing up too badly in one level of ZS can make things harder. Although this isn’t nearly as bad as the original AS).

    I think the main reason zombies might be giving you more feedback is because they’re harder to kill than your average alien.

    Anyway, if you prefer zombies, ZS is perfectly fine, but AS2 is the superior game.

  44. Aphotique says:

    Alien Shooter Vengeance is probably one of my favorite games to date.

    I do however have a mild suggestion, avoid the flame thrower your first play through. If you can keep it fully loaded, you’ll never want to use anything else.

    Be sure to take the rocket launcher root at least once. Toward the end of the game you’ll somehow jump from rockets to nukes. XD

  45. Matzerath says:

    I will chime in also and state Alien Shooter 2 is great. Also, with a little config tweaking you can bring up the resolution nicely, though this makes it so you can see the hordes of alien monsters queued up on the border of the screen waiting for you to draw near – which I think is hilarious. I just wish they were all smoking cigarettes and chatting.

  46. Mr.President says:

    What? There’ll be a ZS2?? Awesome. Loved Zombie Shooter so much.

    Tried Alien Shooter after that, and it was way crappier. At one point in the game I just hit a brick wall when there was no more ammo for any weapon left, but the enemies just kept coming. Couldn’t force myself to play it ever again. The game just seemed so uninspired compared to ZS, it just didn’t seem worth the frustration.

  47. Dominic White says:

    Wait… You ran out of ammo? How is that even possible? The only thing more plentiful than enemies is bullets!

  48. Dominic White says:

    Also, just Making sure – you were playing AS 2, not the original, right? The first game was kinda naff.

    Also, apologies for any typos – lightning killed my ADSL modem and I’m typing on my iPhone right now. Lovely little gadget, this.

  49. Mr.President says:

    Nah, I only played the first one. Was gonna play the two in succession, but that incident really put me off, so I never bought the second one. After reading this thread, I’m considering getting it after all. There was an LP of that, iirc, I think I’ll watch a few videos first.

  50. Xocrates says:

    AS1 was murderous on the last few levels (I recall finishing it once and I’m unsure how I did it since I never even managed to get to the last level since then). AS2 is by comparison fairly easy.